Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Dateline Grand Hotel, Scarborough Friday 21st

We chose this largely on the basis of a Grundy's Wonders piece. The dear man clearly didn't stay at this architectural wonder.
And a wonder it is: the largest brick building in Europe when opened - over 6 billion bricks. An impressive pile. Of bricks outside, slightly weathered, and of completely crapulous srvice inside.
Pity about the staff and restaurant, though. We needed a 'security key card' to get in to get fed at the latter - which we did not think we had, thinking of a real plastic security card. Silly us: it turned out to be the foot of the reservation sheet - a piece of paper! No key/paper, no meal. First hurdle.
Second hurdle, getting back to the room to get the sucker once we figured out just what that was.
Hotel is running a (!) Country and Western weekend special, which has attracted a depressingly large number of truly tragic individuals dressed (mainly) as Kenny Rogers, or Dolly Parton (generally avec mucho decolletage). No sign of a Lucinda Williams influence, I'm afraid. Donning these costumes seems to have decoupled the brain-to-room-number link, so the lift went to every floor, just in case.
There seems also to be an inordinately large number of actually mentally challenged individuals present, and one in a group manages (what else?) to jam the lift - no doors, lights, action.... Staff sort this out quite quickly, considering.
We finally get to the room, return with and prove that we have the paper key card. We're in to the restaurant! Not so fast.
We are asked to sit at a maroon table. So we do. Turns out (after 5 minutes wait) that the table is set up for breakfast and cannot, just cannot therefore be used for dinner. The dinner module will not run on an Operating Surface (OS) geared for breakfast. The natural solution would be to reset the same table. Oh no. Too hard. So we move. To another maroon table. Without marmalade. I swear, that's the only difference.... But now, happily, dinner can be served.
Sadly, the food comes and is dire. Awful. Bony fish, exquisitely hand-turned from Roman era leather peas, diced swede. Boiled spuds were good, but it's easy to imagine Cook out the back, shlomping the grub onto the tin dishes in best prison camp movie style. Certainly explained the general consistency. They used to slowly boil the odd individual during the dark days of the Counter-Reformation, and obviously the long slow boil habit is hard to break around here.
We establish that our waitress is from Spain. Bilbao, not Barcelona. No Fawlty Towers here. Oh no.
We ask for a wine list. Sorry, the bar closes at 7.30pm, but we can get you dry, sweet or red from upstairs. Oh, don't bother, thanks. Can't see that red being a cheeky little Aussie shiraz, anyway, somehow.
Unaccountably, after all this, we (a) leave before dessert (b) convinced we have wandered into to a Hi-de-hi time warp, and (c) still damn hungry. One consolation: the meal is in the room rate - now that explains a lot...
We tramp the seaside part of town, lokking for alternative food offering places. Not many open (off season), and those that are seem to be mostly the Brit Pub style: tiny, smoky, fuggy rooms, carpet smells of thousands of spilled drinks. And the patrons are clearly happy as clams. We keep looking.
Scarborough has a little mousehole (mowzel) type harbour. We wander down. Then away. Because down here, S also has teen hoons and drunk seaman. No bovver but we don't feel comfortable.
Finally find a little hole in the wall place, closed, of course. We persuade them that having a coffee and dessert means they are really open. Good coffee and desserts. They're having a Fawlty Towers night! Oh, the irony. Our night in Scarborough is complete.

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